November 11, 2020 6 min read

By George Mouratidis

Few grow light brands command the same level of respect as Black Dog LED. Despite their exorbitant prices, Black Dog’s LED lights remain some of the most highly sought-after units.

Any cannabis growers who want to add serious “shine” to their grow tent can’t ignore this American company’s product line. 

While Black Dog LED often outshines the competition, you might be wondering whether its prices are too high. Is it worth the extra hundreds (or thousands!) for a pristine PhytoMAX-2 model?

Of course, we can’t determine whether Black Dog LED is right for your situation. That being said, Black Dog LED lights are typically marketed at intermediate and advanced home-growers. Beginner cultivators or people with cramped grow closets might not be as enthused with Black Dog LED.

If you’re still interested in the Black Dog name, then it’s worthwhile investigating this brand’s history, products, and features. Only a thorough understanding of Black Dog’s offerings can help you decide whether this light is right for your tent.

A Brief History Of Black Dog LED

Black Dog LED was formally created in 2010, but founder Corey Drew says he had an idea for the company years earlier. Dissatisfied with the quality of LED models on the market, Drew decided to use his horticulture expertise to create an ideal LED grow light. The result of Corey Drew’s efforts is the PhytoMAX-2 we all know today. 

To this day, Black Dog LED makes it clear it’s not in the business of making cost-effective lights. While Black Dog LED tries to keep its lights as affordable as possible, its primary goal is to manufacture the highest-quality full-spectrum products. Not only does Black Dog LED spend a great deal of money on manufacturing, it also pours tons of capital into its R&D department.

Indeed, Black Dog LED is exceptionally proud of its many proprietary technologies. For instance, the company claims to have been the first to incorporate IR, UV, and “nano white chips” in one unit. 

In addition to its full-spectrum coverage, Black Dog LED lights deserve credit for introducing 3W LEDs in a single diode. Before Black Dog unveiled this innovative diode, the industry’s standard was “3W3 diodes,” which were just three 1W diodes. 

Beyond these powerful light innovations, Black Dog LED also had a hand in many safety features. Most notably, this company was the first to install successful thermal cutoffs in their lights. Black Dog LED also developed a unique pair of grow glasses to protect cultivators’ peepers.

Black Dog LED still manufactures and tests all of its lights in Colorado. Although initially founded in Niwot, most of Black Dog’s operations are now in Boulder.

What Is Black Dog’s “Phyto-Genesis Spectrum”?

One of Black Dog’s most-discussed technologies is its “Phyto-Genesis Spectrum.” The company took roughly six years to develop this proprietary, full-spectrum display perfect for vegetative and flowering stages. 

Indeed, Black Dog LED believes so strongly in its Phyto-Genesis Spectrum that it doesn’t add dimmers or spectrum switches on its lights. The company claims this spectrum is stronger than all other light models, including HPS, MH, and fluorescent. 

According to Black Dog LED, engineers carefully monitored photosynthesis rates while testing different light spectrums. Only the wavelengths that supported optimal cannabinoid and terpene production went into the Phyto-Genesis Spectrum. This also includes “Beyond PAR” wavelengths like ultraviolet, near-infrared, and infrared. 

As a bonus, Black Dog LED took heat transfer into account when making its Phyto-Genesis Spectrum. Black Dog analysts evaluated how much heat cannabis leaves absorbed with different wavelengths. Thanks to this innovative research, Black Dog claims its Phyto-Genesis Spectrum keeps ambient air temps 10° F warmer than other LEDs, which significantly reduces cooling costs.

What Is Black Dog LED’s PhytoMAX-2 Model? 

As you browse Black Dog LED’s catalog, you’ll soon discover all of this company’s grow lights go by the same name: PhytoMAX-2. While these lights have many glaring differences (e.g., size, weight, price, and wattage), they all have basically the same construction. For instance, here are a few crucial features all PhytoMAX-2 lights share:

  • Glass lenses for easy cleaning.
  • Lifespan of ≥70,000 hours.
  • Phyto-Genesis Spectrum technology.
  • 8-foot cord length.
  • 5-year warranty.
  • ETL certification.

Black Dog LED also boasts that all of its PhytoMAX-2 lights only use the highest-quality LEDs such as Cree to give a full-spectrum display. To help with heat management, PhytoMAX-2 lights have the industry’s largest heat sink. These lights are also marketed as having even edge-to-edge coverage, which maximizes efficiency and reduces the risk of light burn. 

One PhytoMAX-2 model that deserves a special mention is the PhytoMAX-2 1000. As the title suggests, this is a 1000W light, making it the strongest in Black Dog’s catalog. In fact, the PhytoMAX-1000 is still considered the most powerful commercial LED grow light. 

Black Dog says the PhytoMAX-2 1000 can give off a staggering 1602 μMol/s total downward photon flux. Tests at Black Dog LED’s facilities also demonstrated PhytoMAX-2 1000 yields at least 15 percent more than a standard 1240W HPS.

What Are the Top-Selling PhytoMAX-2 Units? 

While all PhytoMAX-2 units share similar features, there are significant differences in power, size, and coverage. Here are the critical specs for every PhytoMAX-2 unit now available on Everything But The Plant:

PhytoMAX-2 200

  • Dimensions: 12’’ x 12’’ x 5’’
  • Weight: 14 lbs.
  • Number of LEDs: 84
  • True wattage: 210 W
  • Max flowering coverage: 3’ x 3’
  • Max vegetative coverage: 3.75’ x 3.75’
  • Price: $629.00

PhytoMAX-2 400

  • Dimensions: 15.75’’ x 15.75’’ x 5’’
  • Weight: 24 lbs
  • Number of LEDs: 168
  • True wattage: 420 W
  • Max flowering coverage: 4.25' x 4.25'
  • Max vegetative coverage: 5.25' x 5.25'
  • Price: $1,099.99

PhytoMAX-2 600

  • Dimensions: 18.75’’ x 18.75’’ x 5.13’’
  • Weight: 32 lbs.
  • Number of LEDs: 252
  • True wattage: 630 W
  • Max flowering coverage: 5’ x 5’
  • Max vegetative coverage: 6.5’ x 6.5’
  • Price: $1,549.00

PhytoMAX-2 800

  • Dimensions: 21" x 21" x 7"
  • Weight: 50 lbs.
  • Number of LEDs: 336
  • True wattage: 840 W
  • Max flowering coverage: 6’ x 6’ 
  • Max vegetative coverage: 7.5’ x 7.5’
  • Price: $1,949.00

PhytoMAX-2 1000

  • Dimensions: 21" x 21" x 7"
  • Weight: 53 lbs.
  • Number of LEDs: 420
  • True wattage: 1050 W
  • Max flowering coverage: 6.5’ x 6.5’ 
  • Max vegetative coverage: 8’ x 8’
  • Price: $2,279.00

What Are The Drawbacks Of Using Black Dog LED Units? 

Although Black Dog LED has gained a lot of praise in the cannabis cultivation space, that doesn’t mean it’s beyond critique. Despite the PhytoMAX-2’s many fantastic features, there are potential cons customers should keep in mind.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: these lights are super expensive. Even though these lights will last a long time (~ 70,000 hours), you’re still going to take a massive financial hit. Be sure to carefully consider the potential yields you’ll get from this light versus your budget.

Another potential issue you might have with the PhytoMAX-2 is a lack of customizability. Unlike the KIND K5 1000 WiFi, Black Dog relies solely on its Phyto-Genesis Spectrum for all plant growth stages. While this makes the PhytoMAX-2 easy to operate, it also makes it impossible to adjust light intensity. If you’re someone who likes to tinker with different lighting schedules, you probably won’t like this restrictive feature.

Lastly, depending on what size you go with, it may be challenging to get this light into your grow space. At average weights between 25 – 50 lbs, PhytoMAX-2 isn’t exactly the ideal choice for closet growing. Remember: these lights were designed for maximum space cover and intensity, not discretion.

Is Black Dog LED The Right Choice For You?

There’s no doubt Black Dog LED’s PhytoMAX-2 has many attractive features. However, that doesn’t mean it’s right for all home-growers. 

Given this light’s steep price tag, it’s no surprise the PhytoMAX-2 most appeals to advanced indoor cultivators. New home-growers with a small space and a limited budget aren’t the best fit for these premier grow lights. However, if your only concern is maximizing light penetration and canopy space, then the PhytoMAX-2 is a fantastic choice.

If you’ve still got questions about any of Black Dog LED’s lights, please click this link to our Black Dog LED products page. You could also check out our other grow light recommendations on this previous blog post.

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